The rise of alternative investments

Back during the dotcom collapse of 2000, I was losing money in the stock market like a champ. I was a second-year financial analyst who had a serious case of confusing brains with a bull market. When I turned to my VP and told him I was still bullish about the stock market, he almost slapped me upside the head. "We're in a bear market, son. Get used to it and stop dreaming!"

After losing about 30 percent in my after-tax portfolio, my dreams of stock market riches finally faded. I cried "uncle" and moved my money into more conservative investments. The funny part was that my 401k was actually up in 2000 and in 2001 because I had allocated 50 percent of my assets into a hedge fund called Andor Capital Management that went short the market.

Normally, only accredited investors -- those who earn $200,000 a year or more or who have a net worth of over $1 million or more (excluding their primary residence) -- can invest in hedge funds. But my firm had a partnership with Andor that gave us peons access to invest as well.

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More about...Investing, Retirement

Don’t let your emotions drive your car-buying decisions

I was in the 6th grade when I first laid eyes on her. She was a 1989 BMW 635i Coupe that did donuts in the school's parking lot after class thanks to an obnoxious, rich 11th-grader who got the car as a birthday present. I was immediately smitten and promised myself one day I'd be able to buy such a car too.

The new 6 series BMW came out in 2005 and all the memories came rushing back. What cost only $35,000 then now cost $75,000 thanks to inflation and an infinite amount of new features. I don't know about you, but $75,000 is a big chunk of change and is way beyond my 1/10th rule for car-buying I say everyone must follow.

I figured instead of spending $75,000, why not go back in time and actually buy that 1989 635i Coupe! My brilliant idea led me to Craigslist where I found my true dream car listed in "fantastic condition with only 160,000 miles"! That's only 8,000 miles a year I rationalized, and off I went to see the seller 45 minutes away.

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More about...Transportation

Improve your negotiation skills with BATNA

If you want to know how to get the best deal possible, learn this simple acronym: BATNA. "BATNA" stands for "Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement." Often times the bulk of money made or lost is in the initial agreement. Negotiating a real estate sale, buying a car, and fighting for a raise or a promotion all require the proper usage of BATNA to get you the highest return.

The Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement is broken down as follows:

* What is your best alternative to a negotiated agreement if you do not purchase or sell?

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More about...Psychology, Shopping

Treasury yield: The most important economic metric

This is an article by Sam, author of Financial Samurai, "How to Engineer Your Layoff," and founder of the Yakezie Network. 

Finance and investing don't have to be complicated. Consistently buying low and selling high can make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. Of course, if investing were so easy, we would all be kicking back and letting our money work for us instead of slaving away at the office every day.

When I started working on Wall Street in 1999, it felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant because I was inundated with financial metrics. As a good institutional equities salesman, I should know the latest GDP forecasts to get a grasp of the overall macro momentum of the country. I'd then need to be able to speak eloquently about inflation expectations to differentiate between real and nominal growth. Finally, I'd have to drill down to a stock's specific sales, operating profit, net profit, and margin assumptions to figure out whether the company was a buy or sell.<

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More about...Investing